American Mom in Beirut

Welcome! Marhaba!

American Mom in Beirut is a website dedicated to my experiences as an American mom living in Beirut, Lebanon. I hope to provide interesting commentary as well as insight as to what it is like living in a Middle Eastern country as an American with two children.

What brought us to Beirut?? My husband is a Psychiatrist. The American University of Beirut (AUB) contacted him and offered him the Chairmanship for the department of Psychiatry at the AUB Medical Center. I couldn’t let him refuse. The idea of being a chairman’s wife in a foreign country is just too good to pass up. So we packed everything up and sent it to Lebanon. There are some nice perks about working and living at the AUB. We have on campus housing and the apartment we live in overlooks the Mediterranean sea. Every morning I gaze at the Mediterranean, I take it in with every breath. It is gorgeous.

Why move my family to of all places Beirut!?? There are many reasons why we moved to Beirut from Charleston, South Carolina. For me personally it is for the adventure. I love to travel and experience different cultures. I can’t think of a better way to indulge my passion then to be completely immersed in a foreign culture. I can’t think of a better gift to give my children then this experience. They are learning to appreciate the world in a whole different way. A very different way then we could have ever provided for them in South Carolina.

Iza is 6 years old, she speaks passable French and 1 phrase in Arabic, which is much better then her Mom (me). Cy is 1.5 years old and can say, “Kitty!!” He also has some baby French and recently is using baby terms in Arabic. I think he will be the linguist in the family.

Both of my children have adapted very well. Iza has made a ton of friends in the very nice playground next to our apartment building. Her school is literally across the street. She walks over every morning. She has always been a happy child and continues to spread her joy to everyone she meets.

Downsides to moving to Beirut? Only one, the Traffic! I don’t mean too many cars on the road like in DC or LA. I mean terrifying traffic. Where road signs are dismissed depending on the drivers mood, scooters and motorcycles take the same privileges as a pedestrian, do not enter signs are put only as a courtesy and Taxi drivers take pride in the number of dents and dings in their cars. I have no idea what happens when people get into their cars here, but they cease to be the very pleasant people I meet when walking and shopping and become pushy, ill mannered, driving maniacs. Think of the movie fast and furious and you may have an idea of what it is like driving on the highway here. To include all of the ego! And yet everyday I get into the car and drive on the roads of Lebanon. In part because I can’t give up my independence, but also there is something enormously indulgent when driving like it is the “wild west”. I don’t like the length of the red light, I go through it. I need to get pass all of the traffic to take my son to the nursery I go down the one way in the wrong direction. I want to speed pass a bunch of slow cars I honk my horn and wave my arms until they move out of the way. It has taken me two months of living here to loose most of the defensive driving skills and common courtesy I had developed in the 25+ years I have been driving and become an offensive driver. I don’t mean that I have become a rude driver; I simply have blended in with the pack and look more like a native driver. And proudly I can say, so far, only one ding on the new car. It is small ding that my husband has not really noticed yet…

Well, hopefully as I navigate my life through Lebanon you will join me and both of us will learn more about what Lebanon is about. I have to say though a lot of this will be about traffic ... Blog you soon. Michella

A Word of Arabic

as-salaam 'alaykum - Peace be Upon You

Traveling About Lebanon

American University of Beirut (AUB)